There was a legit feeling of peace this summer that seemed to settle over the Kings fans and franchise; gone was DeMarcus Cousins, out were the Matt Barnes types and in their stead, quality team leaders and vets and young guys with good work ethics and a hunger to grow. Everyone knew the Kings would be bad this year, but, it would be a simple, justifiable bad. Young-men-learning-to-play kind of bad. The drama was gone, and all that was left was to play (and lose) the games, collect our giant pile of moral victories at the end of the season and cash them in for a high draft pick. All that was left to do was sit back, relax and wait for next season.
Then... the season started. Some positive dramatics as the Kings held the Rockets to 105 points and lost by single digits to a team who had walloped the defending champs the night before. Then the Kings grit out an actual win in Dallas, and suddenly the Kings future is shiny! Then a disappointing loss to Phoenix, “all young teams have bad nights!”. Then New Orleans came to town and “the Kings deserved to lose that game!”. Then Washington. Then Indiana. Then Boston. Nasty, disgusting blow outs. The Detroit game was closer but still. This stopped being fun, and reality set in. Oh, Oh no... The Kings are bad. The Kings are bad. Then an unexpected win against the NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, Melo and PG-13 was followed by a furious comeback to beat Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and the Sixers and suddenly, maybe we underestimated these guys! They’re just regular bad! Then Kristaps and the Knicks happened. Then Washington happened, again. Then the Kings walked up to the worst team in the East, ready to let off some frustration and instead got a whooping unlike anything that had been seen in Atlanta since William T. Sherman showed up with the Army of the Tennessee in 1864. The Kings were not only bad, but bad bad.
Then last night, a Portland team that was designed on paper to wreck the Kings got showed up by a superior Kings defense, and somehow someway, the Kings came away with a victory. Adjustments to the starting lineup, Zach Randolph only played 14 minutes, George Hill snapped out of his walking coma for a night; it took until last night before everything became clear. The Kings, they don’t exist, at least not yet. The Kings are a figment of every Sacramento fans imagination. That normal franchise with unselfish young players and regular old game-by-game drama; They don’t exist! Don’t let the sleek fonts and shiny arena and on-point social media game fool you. Look past Dave Joerger’s new GQ look, and our young, promising studs. Look at this season as a whole. How do you feel? What do you see? Z-Bo’s pot escapades. Skal’s funky minutes. George Hill acting like a Westworld basketball themed robot. Buddy’s slump and rise. Wins when we should lose, historic losses to bad teams. Every expectation subverted as soon as you reached an expectation. Yes. Yes. You see it now. These aren’t the Kings...
They’re the Kangz.
We thought we traded away the dark cloud in the spooky house that haunted us, that turned moral victories into actual losses and offensive runs into technical fouls and had us levitating above the Western Conference cellar and vomiting out phrases like “you know Rondo isn’t that bad of a three point shooter this year” while our heads spun round and round on our necks. The frustation. The burning feeling that this darkness might be around forever. We thought we exorcised the demon KANGZ with some dramatic voodoo in New Orleans last year... but we we’re wrong. The Kangz weren’t gone.
The Kangz never left.
When: Saturday, November 17th; 7:00 pm PST
Where: Moda Center; Portland, OR
Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
What’s a Poor Trail Blazer To Do: Friday night’s victory against the Trail Blazers was an umm... interesting feat. From the outside, it looks a lot like a Portland victory; Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 48 points. The team grabbed their averages in offensive and defensive boards as well as steals, and had one turnover more than their average. That should have been enough to beat a Sacramento team that’s as consistent Then you look outside of everyone not in the starting back court and the picture starts getting a bit clearer. Outside of Dame and C.J., the Blazers hit just thirteen shots last night, and on 41 attempts. No Blazer outside of those two had more than 7 points; Jusef Nurkic who averages 14.5 points per game, had 4 points, Evan Turner who averages 9 points per game, had 1 point. The Kings defense last night was stiffling at times, but the Blazer’s couldn’t hit water if they were Rose holding the “Heart of the Ocean” over the edge of the boat at the end of Titanic. There were three different times last night where the Kings held Portland scoreless for three-minute-plus stretches, and even when Portland was hitting shots, it seemed like it was always within the last 5 seconds of the shot clock.
Tonight’s game is going to be a master class in adjustments for both sides and the team that can come out and counter what was happening in Sacramento on Friday night will be the team that comes out victorious. The Kings found themselves with 11 steals last night, a good solid three above their average; if the Blazer’s cut down on even a couple of those last night, they win the game. If Dave Joerger keeps the same lineups as last night, Portland is going to have to find a way to attack Zach Randolph a bit more, and Joerger is going to have to counter with getting Skal involved a bit more in the offense. No one can expect Willie to have a second night of 22 points and 10 rebounds, or Nurkic to come out flat as a board. This weird back-to-back against the same team should be an interesting opportunity to watch the coaches as much as the players.
Fun side note: Both George Hill and Garrett Temple had 14 points, on six made shots, each hitting their lone free throw, each shooting 1 for 3 from three and having 2 turnovers. The banana peel on the dance floor was Hill took one more shot then Temple and ruined my fun time staring at Basketball Reference.
Prediction: Portland and Sacramento both agree to take the night off and have a nice intersquad bonding session in Portland. NBCSCA televises last night’s game, but digitally changes the center court logo to Portland’s and remixes the sound so that the cheering comes when Portland makes a basket. Willie Cauley-Stein goes off for 22-10 for the second night in a row, life long friendships are made between the Blazers and Kings, gelato is consumed and everyone gets to bed at a reasonable hour. A good back and forth game ends with a Kings win.
Kings: 86, Blazers: 82